Default Zopo ZP998, So-called World’s First 8-core Mobile Phone: Not As Ambitious

Just one day after MediaTek raised the curtain of MTK6592, Zoppo,the Chinese phone maker, held a press conference flaunting how its new flagship, powered by the Octa-core chipset, would be a monster. Henceforth, it spent about 2 months hyping (perhaps optimize,too) the so-called world’s first 8-core smartphone everywhere.

Clearly Zoppo was trying the same hunger marketing tactics by Apple, or its Chinese mimicry Xiaomi. That did intrigued me somehow, but I was left cold when I held the very stuff, namely Zopo ZP998, in hand at last.

1. Design
iPhone 5/5s and HTC One have inscribed metallic surface and matte finish as major elements into the aesthetics of mobile phone design. The ZP998 seems looking for a breakthrough with its leathery plastic rear side, which, suggest more premium a feel than Samsung Galaxy S4’s cheesy case would do. That aside, the Zoppo handset’s overall design is not inspiring.


Its front is a round-cornered rectangle, measures 5.96 inches tall by 3 inches wide, and is covered with an all-over piece of glass slightly above the edges. In a word, the handset has the magnified face of iPhone 5, plus a few compulsory tweaks such as touch-sensitive physical buttons at the bottom in place of iPhone’s home button, a wider earpiece outlet at the top to fit the ZP998’s oversize, and a bigger front camera on the earpiece’s right instead of top.

The trim encircling Zopo ZP998’s chassis is in fact made from aluminum, though the finish and color deliver a feel not as metallic as iPhone’s. The volume rocker sits on the upper left edge, and the right edge houses the power and camera keys. Between the phone’s face and edges, there is a distinct seam that shows lesser delicate craftsmanship.
The camera starter button, also the physical shutter, serves as Zopo’s messenger to tell us how outstanding the camera is, but it is placed so far that I must adjust my grip every time I want to reach it. I’d rather start the camera by the app icon and use the virtual shutter. Similarly, it can be quite a stretch to touch the back button if you hold the phone in your left hand, the inherent drawback for oversize cell phones.
A cool work looks cool and reasonable. In this sense, Zopo did not put enough sweat and tears into its new hit.




2. Display

Zopo’s has proved excellent in displaying system by its last flagship Zopo C2. The new one’s screen is just as good with the same resolution of 1920 by 1080 pixels and a bigger 5.5-inch size.
While the added 0.5 inch decreases the ZP998’s pixel density to 401 PPI from C2’s 441 PPI, I don’t find major degeneration in image quality. The screen still shows extremely vibrant colors and crispy details.
Being edge-to-edge, the display helps cut Zopo ZP998’s body size a lot and its border is proof against accidental contacts. Both features are favorable except in one case: if you hold the phone tight (you normally use some strength to grip the phone when it is vertical to the floor) in your left hand, the border of the display is sensitive to your extruded palm flesh when you can’t switch home screens to the right by siding the thumb of the same hand.

Quibbles aside, Zopo ZP998 is paired with a fantastic full HD screen.




3. Operating System:
While the Mainland-China version of Zopo ZP998 runs Yun OS 2.3, an overhauled Android 4.2 system with flat icons and translucent notifications pull-down menu, the overseas version comes with the pure Android 4.2.2. The latter offers all the language options born with Android and has Google Play Store onboard.



Switch of home screens and Launcher layouts are smooth, though not very pleasantly fast. Annoying but tolerable delays were found during shifts between widgets layouts and between pictures in gallery. And I was able to open and close apps again and again without any hiccup.

Powered by an 8-core CPU and Mali-450MP GPU, the aforementioned performance indicates inadequate efforts on OS optimization.


4. Camera
Able to shoot 14MP pictures, the ZP998’s back camera uses an alleged F2.0 big aperture, bigger than that of any cell phone to my knowledge. Indeed, the camera is capable of drawing blur background and foreground with quite strong Bokeh effects.

However, the photos come out neither very vivid nor crisp in comparison with the 8MP iPhone 5, another proof that face-value resolution is not everything for a camera. The 5MP front camera has low contrast, too.

normal light, low light

with flash, under fluorescent lamp

background blur, foreground blur

5. Core Components
Before running some benchmark software on the ZP998, I tried 2 games that had never worked well on Android phones equipped with previous generations of MTK chipsets. Temple Run Oz, with all its thrilling high definition, vividness and 3 dimensions, always and frequently encountered skips of frames. And the blockbusting NFS: Most Wanted proved out of MTK’s ability to handle.

You can hardly say the cars are whizzing on Zopo ZP998, but the speed is about twice as high as it was with some quad-core MTK6589T-powered phones, and the background motion is nearly smooth. Skips of frames with the Oz have been reduced to an extent that you can really enjoy the game.
Yes, I did see considerable improvement in processing ability from the coordination of the 1.7Ghz MTK6592 CPU and Mali-450 GPU. On the other hand, Zopo’s mediocre software optimization gives me hope that some bigger phone makers, perhaps Lenovo, would forge some perfect stuff out of the chipset.

The Zopo handset notched scores of 8000 and 13000 on Quadrent and Antutu, respectively. Quadrent says the phone is better than HTC One X, and Antutu even says it’s better than Samsung Galaxy S3. But it’s weird that both benchmarks give the pixel density of 480PPI and front camera resolution of 8MP.




6. Battery Life:

I used the ZP998 for two weeks, including 3 and half a days with the display shut down after full charge (of course I need to activate the display a few times to see the power usage). The battery is able to last you for approximately 9 hours of light-to-heavy use, or around 11 hours if you don’t play games at all. Anyway, once-a-day charge is inevitable.
Antutu battery test gives the smpartphone a score of 486, between HTC Incredible S and Milestone.



7. Others:

The ZP998’s gesture sensor is more responsive than any Chinese phone I’ve ever tested. In the past, I nearly have to touch those screens to make my “air” gesture work out. NFC is another feature that often failed on Chinese phones, while Zopo ZP998 stimulated me a lot. It has no problem in data transfer with Xiaomi M3 and Sony Xperia. As for Miracast wireless display, most Chinese Phones are OK, so this one is not something exceptional.

8. Conclusion:

Zopo ZP998 is still a typical phone made by a typical second-tier Chinese phone maker. It is a storehouse of trendy technologies, while each of them doesn’t bring stunning user experience. What’s interesting is that the 8-core mobile phone has the same or lower price than some 4-core Zopo-branded ones.

Let me be less cynical! After all, Zopo ZP998 is sold not with a super price, so I shouldn’t have expected a super phone. In spite of all its embarrassing drawbacks, this is a worthy product, for sum-up.

A brief video review about Zopo ZP998: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jwJ3tyn4HUQ